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Court orders changes to Texas voter ID law

A federal appeals court has ruled that Texas' strict voter ID law violates the Voting Rights Act and has ordered changes before the November election. (Photo courtesy: MGN Online)

When Texas voters head to the polls in November, the state's five-year-old voter ID law will no longer be on the books as it was passed by the legislature in 2011.

"It's a great day for voting rights, it's a great day for all Texas voters," said Manny Garcia, executive director of the Texas Democratic Party. "The Texas Voter ID law has held back from 600,000 Texans who were registered to vote but didn't have the required strict ID necessary," he added.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals struck the heart of the law down today, ordering the lower court to write up some interim rules.

Governor Greg Abbott wasn't happy, saying in a statement that the court "wrongly concluded the law had a discriminatory effect. Voter fraud is real, and it undermines the integrity of the election process."

We requested information about voter fraud cases prosecuted in Texas -- the Attorney General's office released a list, 22 cases prosecuted since 2013, most of them involving illegal assistance to a voter. There are five cases of illegal voting, one still pending in North Texas. "In the past several election cycles you can probably count them on your hands the number of times people have committed in person voter fraud," Garcia said. The 5th Circuit noted that in the decade leading up to the law, there were two convictions for in-person voting fraud out of 20 million ballots cast.

The court found that the law placed an undue burden on minority voters, saying in the majority opinion that, "The record shows that drafters and proponents of SB 14 [Senate Bill 14] were aware of the likely disproportionate effect of the law on minorities, and that they nonetheless passed the bill without adopting a number of proposed ameliorative measures that might have lessened this impact."

Garcia agreed. "Those are 600,000 people who are Latinos, African-Americans, seniors, more likely to be poor," he said.

You will still have to show some kind of ID at the polls in November. KEYE TV will be sure to keep you informed as to what the requirements will be.

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